USF Lady Dons Punch Ticket Into NCAA Tournament

The first Bay Area team to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament is the University of San Francisco's women squad, who claimed the West Coast Conference Tournament title on Tuesday.

The USF Lady Dons have not returned from the conference tournament with such hardware in 19 years. The team bringing back a trophy was greeted with a Heroes Welcome Home.

"I can't believe how many supporters we have out here," said Taylor Proctor, USF senior forward. "Thank you to them."

Proctor delivered a 27 point, 10 rebound effort, which included a clutch bucket late in the game to help USF secure a 70-68 victory over top-seeded BYU.

As No. 6 seed, the Dons became the lowest seed in tournament history to win the West Coast Conference Tournament Championship.

Longtime Dons play-by-play man George Devine had a feeling the upset might happen.

"I had this strange premonition last week," Devine said. "Either they're going home Thursday night or they're winning the whole kit and kaboodle."

Jennifer Azzi, USF Women's head coach, said the team felt "there was sort of a destiny in it" from the minute they arrived at the tournament.

"There's kind of a magic in the tournament," Azzi said. "And I think tournament time is really all about players."

Fortunately for Azzi, she has two senior players that can play with the best of them.

The Dons trailed in all three games in Las Vegas and by as many as 15 points in the title game, but Proctor and Zhane Dikes simply refused to let the Dons lose.

"Since I was probably able to say 'NCAA Tournament,' I wanted to be in the NCAA Tournament," Dikes said. "I dreamed of this...I still feel like I'm in a dream. I need to get pinched right now."

Devine said NCAA Tournament berths are not real common at USF despite two banners from the 1990s.

"They haven't been commonplace for more than a generation, so this is huge," Devine said.

Next up for the Cinderella Dons? The NCAA Tournament selection show next Monday is when the team will find out who and when they will be playing.

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